Cognitive impairment impedes communication, attention, memory, thinking and problem solving. Dementia and delirium are the two most common conditions associated with cognitive impairment. People with dementia are also at a greater risk of developing delirium.
For some people with dementia and/or delirium and for their carers and families, a hospital stay can be a negative experience. Staff can also struggle to provide the right care in the absence of appropriate education and training. Dementia and/or delirium in hospital is often associated with adverse outcomes, including functional decline, increased risk of falls, increased morbidity and mortality. These adverse outcomes can lead to a longer length of stay in hospital and an increased risk of entry into residential care.
There are evidence-based ways to improve the care of patients with cognitive impairment in acute care and considerable work is under way within health systems at all levels to implement these improvements. However, there are currently no mechanisms for requiring best practice and few processes that support a systematic approach to the provision of care.
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